This morning we had the introduction of our California Golden Blogs Hall Of Fame, centered on our initial entrant, Mark Bingham. Tonight, we look at all the other members of the initial class, presented in no particular order. Thanks for your votes, guys! GO BEARS!
Tony Gonzalez, perhaps the greatest tight end in NFL history (although John Mackey and Mike Ditka might have something to say about that) starts off our list. Let's take a look at a brief sampling of his career.
Since we can talk about Gonzalez's accomplishments, people might be interested to know that Gonzalez toyed with veganism for awhile, at his peak, as a pro, in his contract year (it's crazier because all these things happens at once).
It took Mooch and his West Coast offense to fully exploit Tony's skills as both an explosive run blocker and deep receiving threat. In his junior season of 1996, Gonzalez caught 46 passes for 699 yards and 5 touchdowns. He was named all-Pac 10 and first team All-America by the Football News and Sporting News magazines.
All the while, of course, Gonzalez was logging double duty as a starting forward on Cal's basketball team. In 1996-97 he developed an offensive game to complement his rugged rebounding and led the Golden Bears to a surprise berth in the Sweet 16.
1. He was so giant catching balls in the 1995-96 season, that among my group of dorky friends we subtituted "Tony Gonzalez" as a synonym for "huge" as in: "Jeez, that burrito is Tony Gonzalez"
2. After losing to UNC, Coach Dean Smith said about Tony G "I believe that man has a great future in football. He’s certainly very strong"
3. I once asked NBA All Star Antawn Jamison what was it like to play against Tony G – he said "he’s not an NBA player – but that’s no knock on him. He’s a really really good basketball player, and strong as hell. He was a tough defender"
Carp has nothing but great things to say about his former coach. Here's his writeup.
Coach Clark, a Cal rugby alum himself, deserves to be up there on the list of integral people associated with Cal. He has guided Cal rugby to 19 national titles since he took over in 1981. He led Cal to an unprecedented 115 game winning streak.
Winning was not necessarily the aim. Rather, it was a by-product of excellent preparation, attention to detail, dedication, and perservearance. He teaches his players to be thoughtful, selfless, and responsible adults. Clark is quick to point out that Cal rugby is completely self-sufficient and is comprised of non-scholarship athletes who earn their keep on and off the pitch.
After all, Clark is accustomed to overcoming incredible odds:The following month Clark attended a party at the house of an acquaintance in San Francisco and went outside to help break up an altercation. He ended up squared off against a man with a 9-mm Magnum. The assailant, who was under the influence of PCP, fired at Clark, hitting him four times. One bullet shattered his left femur, another the left fibula. At San Francisco General Hospital, heavily sedated and suffering significant nerve damage in the leg, Clark was confronted with the possibility of amputation. One night, while drifting in and out of consciousness, he awoke to a lecture on prosthetic limbs from a hospital counselor. "I called up one of my mates," Clark recalls, "and said, ‘I need you to get down here, and whatever you do, don’t let them take my leg.’"
Clark hung on, enduring a 45-day stay at the hospital and then more than a year of physical therapy. Eighteen months after the shooting he ran a 10K. "When something like that happens," he says, "you’re either going to be a victim or you’re not."
"We do a lot of pullups because they’re great for grip strength" said Coach Clark. Picture this: if you’re lifting your opponents up into the air by gripping onto their shorts – be it in a scrum, a ruck, or a maul – you have to rely on your gripping, pulling and hoisting muscles.
For example, rather than his team do bench press excercises, he has them do pullups:
On top of this, Clark volunteered to coach the USMC rugby team in the offseason.
To honor his efforts, the marines presented Clark with this American flag (above) that was flown over Camp Ripper in Iraq on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. It is one of his proudest possessions.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Clark on Stanfurd refusing to play Cal in rugby:"We lose to Stanford in many sports, but if you want to make a Cal team quit, bring a weapon."
It'd be hard to find Cal fans who didn't have a positive opinion of Jeff Tedford.
Ohio Bear: He has done an unbelievable job. If you followed Cal football in the 1980s and 1990s through the Holmoecaust, you know what I’m talking about. Perhaps something I read a long time ago on a Michigan blog said it best (and I’m paraphrasing): before Tedford, Cal was the Indiana of the Pac-10 in football.
5-1 Bowl Games
6-1 Against Stanfurd
1 Co-Conference Championship
For people who might want more background on one of Cal's finest coaches, check out this widely circulated Gameday profile from 2004.
Not many Cal fans can find a bad word to say about Leon. ragnarok has this classic story from the old blogsome of Powe's greatest performance in gold & blue:
Already demanding notice after setting a tournament record with 20 rebounds in avictory over USC the previous night, Leon Powe had what is probably his signature game at Cal during the semifinals of the Pac-10 tournament. Seventh-seeded Oregon was fighting for its season; with a 15-17 record, the Ducks knew there would be no postseason for them if they didn’t win the Tournament. Still, they had managed to beat hapless Washington State and then upset second-seeded Washington the next night, and early on, it looked like they might pull off their improbable run to the title game, sprinting out to a 32-16 lead in the first half. Then they ran into Leon Powe.
Of course, it took a team effort from the Bears to battle back from a 16-point deficit, including trailing by 7 with less than 3 minutes to go, but it often seemed that most of that team effort involved feeding Powe in the low post over and over and over again. And why wouldn’t they? The man was virtually unstoppable that night, shooting 14 of 17 from the floor and 13 of 18 from the line. You don’t really need an offense when you have Leon Powe, but the Bears did need every one of his tournament-record 41 points (and two overtimes) to hold off the Ducks in a game that had me (alone at home) screaming at my television and nearly convinced me to drive down to LA for the final. These Bears should have been upset, but Powe put them up on his back and barreled them into the final virtually singlehandedly.
As great as that performance is, we love Leon for a lot more than his put back dunks or even being the Show in the NBA Finals. His story from rags to riches would have left Jamal Malik reeling and Latika swooning. Leon Powe is where amazing happens.
Well...we'll let Spazzy talk about Pain Train:
OH MAKE NO MISTAKE, PAIN TRAIN IS NOT LEAVING BERKELEY. PAIN TRAIN IS *SPARING* BERKELEY. PAIN TRAIN REMEMBERS THE FIRST TIME HE BROUGHT HIS PAIN UPON BERKELEY. HE TRIED TO OFFER A VAGRANT HIS LEFTOVER PAD THAI BUT THE VAGRANT DEMANDED COMPENSATION FOR BEER INSTEAD. ALCOHOLISM WRECKS FAMILIES, SO PAIN TRAIN WRECKED THE VAGRANT, WITH A TITANIC HELMET CRUSH BLOW TO THE COLON.
DO YOU RECALL THE FENCES AROUND THE TREE SITTERS? THEY WERE NOT BUILT TO PROTECT PEDESTRIANS, THEY WERE PUT IN PLACE TO PROTECT THE TREE SITTERS FROM PAIN TRAIN. OTHERWISE, PAIN TRAIN WOULD HAVE REMOVED THE TREES WITH HIS BARE, SHARP TEETH. *ringtone chimes, playing I'm On a Boat ft. T-Pain.* PARDON ME, PAIN TRAIN IS RECEIVING A TELEPHONE CALL.
OH HELLO THERE, DUMPSTER MUFFIN. WHAT'S THAT? YOU DON'T KNOW WHETHER TO USE SILK OR COTTON SHEETS ON THE GUEST BED? AND YOU'RE TIRED OF YOUR JOB? WELL, PERHAPS YOU SHOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT BEFORE YOU JOINED YOUR LITTLE PROTEST. THEN THE JUDGE WOULDN'T HAVE SENTENCED YOU TO BE MY BUTLER FOR LIFE. I REALIZE YOU THINK THAT'S UNFAIR, BUT WE WILL TALK ABOUT IT LATER, I'M CONDUCTING AN INTERVIEW RIGHT NOW. NO, I HAVE TO GO, NO, YOU CAN'T SIT ON THE OAK CABINET, IT'S AN ANTIQUE FROM THE ESTATE OF SIR THOMAS CALHOUN. NO, LIKE I SAID, YOU C--NO! NO! DO NOT ANTAGONIZE PAIN TRAIN FURTHER. PAIN TRAIN JUST MAY EXTRACT YOUR ARMPIT HAIRS ONE BY ONE JUST LIKE HE WOULD HAVE LIKED TO REMOVE THE OAKS ONE BY ONE.
JUST LIKE HE REMOVED PRETTYBOY QUARTERBACKS ONE BY ONE. FOR FOUR YEARS. ERIK AINGE STILL HAS A TRAIN SHAPED IMPRINT ON HIS EIGHTH AND NINTH VERTEBRAE. LET IT BE KNOWN: TOM BRADY WILL WISH HE TORE BOTH HIS ACL'S AND BE OUT FOR HIS CAREER, BECAUSE PAIN TRAIN IS ABOUT TO TEAR TOM BRADY'S SOUL WITH THE AMOUNT OF PAIN HE WILL IMPART. DO YOU HEAR THAT, NFL QB'S? PAIN TRAIN IS ATTENDING YOUR POTLUCK. AND HE IS BRINGING ONLY PAIN.
Avinash: That Washington game was awesome. You could feel the tension in the stadium, that all our Rose Bowl hopes were about to slip away to some 4-6 team (probably a warning sign of things to come). Then Marshawn entered Beast Mode and would not let us lose. Great great game.
I also have fond memories of him playing second backup to Arrington. Underscores the importance of having two not just capable but dynamic running backs. Forsett had his struggles in his backup role to Marshawn, Vereen did the same with Best. There was no real drop off with Marshawn though. 8.8 yards per carry, 8 touchdowns on only 71 carries.
Beast Mode gives us the brief intro of Coughlin for those unfamiliar with her accolades:
11 Olympic Medals
3 Olympic Gold medals
Holds numerous US records and set numerous world records
I was planning on putting some of her sweet Olympic backstroke races, but NBC, being the total dicks they are about copyright, pulled them all off YouTube. Great job fellas. Way to promote your athletes. So I'm left with this article about the physics/fluid dynamics of dolphin kicks which Coughlin is famous for using off the turns, and an even cooler video of a female swimmer simulation (probably Coughlin?) of the fluid dynamics of the kick.
Twist once did a fine YouTube Thursday post on her (for the 4th of July!) which includes some interviews, highlights and training tips. He also showed Coughlin's pre-Beijing profile, which includes her NCAA accolades at Cal. Check it out below.
Event: Women's Swimming - Freestyle/Backstroke/IM
Hometown: Vallejo, Calif.
Years at Cal: 2001-04
Arguably the greatest female swimmer in Cal history, Coughlin won 12 NCAA titles with the Golden Bears (the second-most career titles for a women's swimmer in NCAA history). She was a three-time NCAA and Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year. Her success only grew more after her collegiate tenure. At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Coughlin became the third American woman to win five medals at one Olympics (the others are Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Miller). She took gold in the 100-meter backstroke and the 800 freestyle relay, breaking the world record in that event. Coughlin also won silver medals in the 400 free relay and the 400 medley relay, and a bronze in the 100 free. At the 2008 Olympic Trials, Coughlin lowered her world record in the 100 back to 58.97. In addition, she finished second in both the 100 free (53.83) and 200 individual medley (2:10.32).
I predict you already have a solid appreciation of who Natalie Coughlin is. Although it states her hometown is the Valley Jo. I always thought it was Concord.
Also, she's one of our many athletes on Twitter! Everyone who saw her Olympic profile knows she's grown huge on the cooking thing to keep her from going crazy during all the swimming training. Thus, posts like "Fava bean puree on garlic toast, dungeness crab/avoc/beet salad, saffron chick w/ parm pudding, & cheese tart w/ blueberry lemon cream" "Making dinner. Just when I thought I had nothing to eat...found frozen artichokes in freezer. Voilà: artichoke-lemon risotto!" are not the least bit surprising!
To learn more about Roth, let's listen to the impeccable Keith Jackson.
"Dying is not so tough. For the last three years I've lived with the realization that the next day might be my last. I'm lucky to be here as long as I was, so don't feel any pity. A lot of people younger than me and older than me have to face up to this sort of thing. I'm nothing special. I'm Joe Roth, a student and a football player."
– Joe Roth
You can find out more about Roth here.
On a lighter side, this gives us a chance to showcase that great 1975 season again! Check out this sweet retro footage and vintage Roth.
Our basketball historian, LeonPowe, reminisces:
On the short list for best point guard of all time.
* In basketball history. Pac-10 Rookie of the Year. National Rookie of the Year. Pac-10 POY. Top 3 NBA pick. Top 5 pro assists of all time.
(I put Magic, Isiah, John Stockton and Oscar ahead of him . . .but I’d take Jason over Gary Payton, Bob Cousy, Walt Frazier, Kevin Johnson, Mark Price and Tiny Archibald.)
Overachieved in his freshman year (Sweet Sixteen), underachieved in his sophomore year (Bozeman’s biggest crime wasn’t cheating . . .it was that he couldn’t coach). But we finished 2nd in the Pac that second year and were ranked in the top 15-20 most of the year.
Now sit back, and watch some sweet Justin Kidd Cal highlights, capped off by the upset vs. Duke (to find out why I called him Justin, see the second video). These fourteen minutes are worth 10,000 words.
From newcomer PunchCards4Ever!
"Muncie set six school rushing records, including most touchdowns and most yards gained in a single season. He was instrumental in Cal’s NCAA-leading offense which propelled the team to the co-championship of the Pac-8 in 1975, and he appeared for the first time on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Muncie was a strong candidate for the Heisman Trophy and finished second in the voting in 1975 behind Archie Griffin of Ohio State. After Muncie graduated, the New Orleans Saints selected him in the 1st round of the 1976 NFL Draft with the 3rd overall selection"
And he more than anyone else destroyed Stanford in the big game that year:
1975 California 48 Stanford 15
And now...time to dust off that slick 1975 footage! Muncie's domination starts at 3:34.